The measuring of intervals between heartbeats confirms poets’ insights: our heart beats to the rhythm of our emotions.
But the influence of mind over the heart is not unidirectional; the heartbeat also has an impact on the brain. Some experts now suggest the existence of a true heart-brain system. Scientific research lead to conclude that a harmonious (“coherent”) heartbeat helps the brain to fight against stress, anxiety and depression.
“Cardiac coherence” also helps to establish harmony between our two brains, the limbic one and the cognitive, so that none takes over the other.
The limbic brain (that all mammals have) is related above all to our survival. This emotional brain controls the physiological balance (breathing, heart rate, etc..). It communicates through the body and makes it express basic emotions such as fear or pleasure.
The cognitive brain was formed during the evolution of our species. It deals with our ability to process information, conventionally labeled intelligence. The cognitive brain concludes that that long shape in the dark is a piece of wood, long after the limbic brain, faster and prudent, has already instructed our body a step back for fear that it is a snake.
Stress, anxiety, depression show the taking over of one brain over the other. For instance, someone experiencing a panic attack can no longer control their body (heart beat, knot in the stomach, adrenaline and, more importantly, feeling of impending death), although their mind tells them there is no real danger.
Cardiac coherence generates a sine wave heartbeat scheme, improves synchronization between the heart and the brains, and improves the resonance between the heart rate and other body rhythms such as breathing, blood pressure and other physiological systems. Although psycho-physiological coherence is a natural condition that can occur spontaneously when a person feels positive emotions, a state of sustained and prolonged coherence is rare.
How to get into cardiac coherence?
The technique is to work on the heart rate variability through breathing until reaching the steady balanced state called “cardiac coherence”. It is a very simple method, that everyone can use, in all circumstances. Based on breathing, it has a ripple effect on the heart. To find out how to get into cardiac coherence, read my article.